MU’s Wes Clark, Shane Rector may not play in NIT following arrests

03/17/2014 11:34 PM

03/17/2014 11:34 PM

Missouri freshmen Wes Clark and Shane Rector were suspended from basketball practice Monday and may not play in tonight’s NIT game against Davidson.

Clark and Rector were among four Missouri athletes arrested Saturday on suspicion of possessing fewer than 35 grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor.

Police stopped a 2008 Dodge Charger driven by Shaun Rupert — who is listed as a redshirt sophomore safety from Florence, Ala., on the Tigers’ football roster — in the Commerce Bank parking lot at 501 E. Broadway for an expired rear license plate tag at 11:32 p.m.

According to the Columbia Police Department, the arresting officer smelled the odor of marijuana as he approached the vehicle.

A small amount of marijuana was found in a package of cigars, according to police, and a field test confirmed the substance was marijuana. Rupert was arrested along with sophomore cornerback Aarion Penton from St. Louis, Clark of Detroit, and Rector of New York.

All four men were released on a signature bond and ordered to appear in Columbia Municipal Court at 9 a.m. on April 25.

MU coach Frank Haith said Clark and Rector were suspended for violating team rules but has yet to decide whether they will play tonight.

“We’re still reviewing,” Haith said. “I’ve spoken to those guys once and will speak to them again. They will not be at practice today until we gather more information with what happened.”

If Clark, who has played in all 33 games and is averaging 4.1 points with 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists, and Rector, who has appeared in 22 games, are suspended, the Tigers won’t have a backup guard on the bench for the NIT opener.

Missouri already is without sophomore guard Corey Haith, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month, and senior forward Tony Criswell, who wasn’t with the team at the SEC tournament last week in Atlanta. Haith said Sunday night Criswell “probably” wouldn’t be available tonight as he continues to deal with personal issues.

Haith said the Tigers’ depth — or lack of it — won’t affect his decision.

“That has nothing to do with it,” Haith said. “We’ve got a program here and we have high standards we expect from our student-athletes, so no it’s not going to factor into any of that. We’re going to make decisions based on what is right for the development of our program.”

Haith didn’t say directly when he knew about the arrests of Clark and Rector other than to say he “didn’t know about it soon enough.”

Penton and Rupert are suspended immediately from the football team “per athletic policy, pending internal review,” according to MU associate athletic director Chad Moller.

Penton played in all 14 games last fall. He recorded 16 tackles, including one for a loss, and also had an interception and pass breakup in primarily a reserve role.

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